muddlermike

Could you live without a table saw?

Could you live without a table saw?  

151 members have voted

  1. 1. could you live without a table saw?

    • Absolutely
    • I like the idea, but having separation anxiety
    • Only if it was a last resort
    • no way, you can have my TS when you pry it from my cold, dead hands


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I've always been one to question the establishment. However, one thing that I thought about was what beechwood mentioned. I think the table saw excels at being able to cut multiple pieces at the same dimension accurately. even if you set the fence a little off, at least all the pieces will be consistent. If you were ripping twelve, 3 inch strips with a track saw, it is probably doubtful you'll be able to get each strip identical - certainly not like you would with a table saw.

My shop space is small enough so that I had to make a choice between tablesaw and bandsaw, and I went with bandsaw. I haven't regretted that decision one bit.

As far as table saws and making identical pieces, that is an advantage of a tablesaw. (For the track saw fans out there, the Festool parallel guide is a reliable alternate way of doing this task.) But this advantage kind of presupposes that you want or need to make many batches of identical pieces. I would submit that if you need a tablesaw to make, say, six identically sized drawer fronts, then you may want to take another look at your design.

Why? My feeling is that the best reason for doing woodworking as a hobby is that you have control over the design of the pieces that you make. It's certainly not because you want to save money making your own furniture. ;) If you really wanted a dresser with six identical drawers, you might as well go get one from Ikea. There's little reason for you to build a dresser like this. On the other hand, a dresser with progressively sized drawers practically screams "I'm a custom piece." It's these sorts of details that really make your piece of furniture stand out from the Ikeas out there. In which case, the "advantage" of a table saw in making identical pieces goes away.

Edit: wanted to add: I realized after I wrote this, that there are probably people who like a 6 drawer dresser with identically sized dressers with custom woodworking features like veneered burl fronts. But I wonder if the aesthetic came with the industrial revolution, where furniture with different sized parts fell out of fashion in part due to growing ubiquity of furniture with identically sized parts, as they were turned out by the factories.

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Mike,

Fantastic topic. I just lost my table saw and have been working without one and as Marc stated earlier I'm not missing it for the ripping or crosscutting I have a bandsaw and circ saw for that, but for joinery especially tenons and dadoes I miss it a lot.

Perfect timing also to see all the comments about the 50" tables, I was dead sure on getting a 50" table but now not so sure. I'd love the Sawstop but way to much money to spend for the saw and the extra pieces for dado head.

building box furniture dressers and vanities it is sure hard to live without that convience and accuracy for multiple processes.

Cant wait for my PM64 or Delta Hybred.

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Haha. Me too. I still couldn't live without a ts, but I could live without the 50" beast. It just eats up so much space. After getting a track saw, my greatest need for a table saw is ripping narrow stock - narrow stock! I just don't need 50" of rip/cross cut capacity anymore. If I ever have the opportunity to buy a small, high quality saw, such as an that small Inca, I'd replace my Unisaw with it.

Marc,

If you do go berserk and cut down your rip fence, please capture it in a podcast! :)

Joe

I am with you guys! 50" is waaaaaaayyyyy more than I need. I thought that bigger was better. Now I know different. I would like to trade with someone for the 32" if I could. I have also thought about cutting mine down, but I am with Marc.... it hurts too much!

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So far I do just fine with my little Bosch 4100. Probably my next big machine would be a band saw. I am liking the curve stuff out there and is tough to do that with a jig saw. I see that the band saw gives me twice the versatility. In my case ... MY .. there is only one way to find out. Plus with the band saw I can do some joinery better.

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I had a dado stack in my TS all weekend, and because I'm lazy I will jump through hoops to avoid having to take the stack off until I'm completely done with it. Of course this usually ensures that I run into at least two dozen cases where I do need my combo blade in the saw in the interim. So this weekend, I actually did without my TS (save for dado operations which I could just have easily done on my router table). I found that the combination of my band saw and jointer, as well as SCMS really handled all the operations the table saw can. I usually cut tenons on the band saw, and can easily do dados and rabbets using my router table, so I absolutely could live without the table saw. That being said, I was surely relieved when I cut my last rabbet on the dado stack and got my trusty WWII back on the arbor.

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I went from a Bosch 4100 to a 52" Sawstop contractor saw. There are times when I really miss the 4100. The only downside with the 4100 was that the table was small, I couldn't use magnetic attachments, and, oh yeah, it would chop my fingers off if I removed the blade guard and stuck my hand in the spinning blade. On the plus side I just put it on a stable base, plugged my shop-vac into the back, and went to work.

I was in the process of building a dedicated base cabinet for it, with outfeed and wings, when I did something stupid and decided to go for the SawStop.

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I am with you guys! 50" is waaaaaaayyyyy more than I need. I thought that bigger was better. Now I know different. I would like to trade with someone for the 32" if I could. I have also thought about cutting mine down, but I am with Marc.... it hurts too much!

Its one of those things I can't help but think I will kick myself for in the future.

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Easy answer, anybody want to buy my Delta Contractor saw? It is definitely easier to say you don't need it when starting out, but once you have the saw it is a lot harder to get rid of it. I moved my saw out into the driveway recently while I was filming an episode to get a better shot of my bench space and I was shocked what freeing up that space did. Interestingly though, I have to agree with Marc in that I would miss it more for joinery purposes. A dado blade is a Godsend sometimes despite how much I like cutting joinery by hand. I think if you are just getting started a bandsaw would add more to your shop faster before a table saw. For me, 10 years later, the table saw just takes up too much space. I'm even thinking about moving it to a storage facility for a while to see what happens and if I miss my dado set.

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I guess keeping my small footprint Bosch saw makes sense for now. I use this mostly for joinery anyway. If I glue up boards for a table top I join the two boards together, clamp them in place and run my Festool TS75 in the "joint" and clean the two faces using Matt Vanderlist video on joining as an inspiration.

I also don't use my table saw at full height most of the times and flip the piece, this makes me feel safer, I cut the piece slightly oversize and then kiss it with full height.

Easy answer, anybody want to buy my Delta Contractor saw? It is definitely easier to say you don't need it when starting out, but once you have the saw it is a lot harder to get rid of it. I moved my saw out into the driveway recently while I was filming an episode to get a better shot of my bench space and I was shocked what freeing up that space did. Interestingly though, I have to agree with Marc in that I would miss it more for joinery purposes. A dado blade is a Godsend sometimes despite how much I like cutting joinery by hand. I think if you are just getting started a bandsaw would add more to your shop faster before a table saw. For me, 10 years later, the table saw just takes up too much space. I'm even thinking about moving it to a storage facility for a while to see what happens and if I miss my dado set.

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I tried to get by with just using my bandsaw and a circular saw. Mostly just because a table saw is kind of intimidating. Sure, they worked ok, but were not nearly as fast and clean as the table saw. I'm mostly over the intimidation so I actually use the table saw a lot now.

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I wasn't sure if this post would turn into a heated debate or not, but I'm really pleased with all the very insightful responses. the table saw is such a prominent tool in almost all of our shops, and it's obvious that the tool companies know this and price their saws accordingly. Paranoia, yes - but you can't deny that other large tools like band saws, jointers, and planers pack much better features and quality for your dollar than table saws. Kind of like a few plane manufacturers I know of...

There's little doubt that a new table saw will be on the list for my shop in the next year or two, as my budget allows. And looking around, it's hard to find quality without going close to $1000. But I see myself exploring more uses for my band saw and hand tools for now, in hopes to make my aging BT3100 last a little longer. Maybe along the way, I'll find out that I can do without the beast - or that I can't live without it.

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As a novice/hobbyist without the luxury of a large shop or the demands for high throughput I rely on my Festool plunge saw/guide rails. This combination can do most of what I need from a TS with regard to ripping. As an upgrade I'd like to invest in the Festool parallel guides and build a sacrificial table that I can fold away. There are a couple of youtube vids that demo this combination that do look quite impressive, both when handling large sheets and in terms of portability. One area where a TS would be convenient for me is with regard to cutting grooves. It is a bit of a pain setting up a jig to do it with my Fes kit.

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Bandsaw tablesaw router - those are the 3 things no shop can live without,

i have to and it's a pain in the bottom. I know it can be done without but it's just so much easier with.

It's the difference between hours of sawing or minutes of pushing.

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I use my table saw a lot since it doubles as my assembly table :D Having a small space in the garage, every little space is occupied and used.

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Bandsaw tablesaw router - those are the 3 things no shop can live without,

i have to and it's a pain in the bottom. I know it can be done without but it's just so much easier with.

It's the difference between hours of sawing or minutes of pushing.

Ok xaromir, you might find you feel YOUR shop can't live without a table saw but a significant number of posters to this thread would disagree with the statement that "NO" shop can live without one.

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As a hobbyist woodworker I of course could "live" without one but it would turn simple tasks into real work and I woodwork to get away from work.

-Gary

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Provided that you're talking about high quality tools, I could very easily see the TS replaced by a band saw or a radial arm saw. The problem is that, as you get down to the lower end of the price spectrum, those two tools suffer far more than the TS. An inexpensive table saw might lack for power or have a finicky fence, but it'll still accomplish all the basics. Below a certain threshold, however, radial arms and band saws become just plain unusable.

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When I first got into woodworking a couple years ago, I followed the conventional modern wisdom that I needed a TS, Jointer, Planer etc. even though I have a small shop (1/2 of a 2 car garage).

I currently have a Rigid TS2400 (Smaller saw with folding legs), However, since I got a set properly sharpened of rip and crosscut saws I very rarely use my TS anymore.

I recently built a Roubo bench (ala Schwarz) from 8/4 Ash. I used the TS for the ripping the boards for the top, but to challenge myself, I build the legs and stretchers w/o the Table Saw, It turns out that after the first few cuts, I found, using a handsaw isn't really that hard.

I'm now considering getting selling the tablesaw and jointer, as they see little use, but take up quite a bit of room.

The only thing that concerns me about getting rid of the TS is that my wife has requested some new (built-in) cabinets for which I'll probably need to work with (shudder) plywood.

- Has anyone given up their TS for something like a Festool TS55 or TS75? What was your experience?

Chris

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When we moved into our new house I had to rethink my shop layout, my new shop space is 22 feet long, 12 feet wide at one and and 9 feet wide at the other, not really conducive to a table saw. In the previous shop (two car garage) the table saw was the centerpiece, permanently placed with side tables and an out-feed table large enough to handle full sheets of plywood. For the first year I tried to figure out how to get it shoe-horned into that smaller space, I had it on wheels, moved it around a lot, gave up the outfeed, compromised dust control.. It wasn't working. I reluctantly came to the painful realization that it had to go, I sold it to a local tool dealer, he came and picked it up, there was definite separation anxiety, I can still see him driving down the alley with my saw on a trailer.

Now I live and work with a 18 inch bandsaw, a sliding crosscut saw and a router table. I have found some things that simply can't be done as well without a tablesaw and I have found myself opting for different projects. I shy away from big cabinet projects and stick to smaller projects with a lot more hand cut joinery. I can live without a table saw because my woodworking is a hobby and I can choose the projects but I can't imagine living without one if I was trying to make a living at this craft. It is simply too much of a time saver in bigger (plywood) projects.

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Of course I could live without a table saw....I could live without a car too, but try bringing home that load of lumber on foot.

Did that. took five times as long, because I had to keep setting the load down on my foot and switch arms. (needed to set it on my foot so I could bring it back up to carrying height.) Finally got it inside, used a circular saw to cross cut it, and used angle iron brackets as shelf supports. Moved it from Cincinnati to Cleveland, and had it packed in the truck to move to my first apartment when a friend said he would trade it for a dresser.

The bookshelf I built was unfinished, basic pine, never squared off, barely level, almost sturdy, and some of the most fun I had. (until my roommate came home and asked I clean up the sawdust... I hate shag carpeting.)

now, I have a table saw and never use it, because I don't even have enough space around it to rip a 36" board.

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I could do it. I did it for a short while when I was starting out, but I find I get too much use out of my tablesaw to get rid of it. Like some others though, when I upgraded I sprang for a 50" fence and it may be a little big. The extra space tends to accumulate stuff. Mind you if my shop was as big as I'd like that'd be a non-issue :).

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